Episode 72: Tolkien Mythology (with Emma Sherr-Ziarko)

We thought we knew all about Tolkien and Middle Earth. We were WRONG. Guest Emma Sherr-Ziarko (Wolf 359, Pairing Podcast) schools us on the creation of the world, the Silmarillion, and all its intricacies. We talk about how eagles are apparently better than wolves, the goddess of empathy and sorrow, the reason music is so legit, silver fox elves, and sooooooo much more. Seriously, this is a buckwild episode.



You can find Emma Sherr-Ziarko on Twitter @TheGreatDilemma and acting as Commander Renée Minkowski on Wolf 359. Check out her new podcast, Pairing, where she pairs wine with art & culture to delightful effect.



Audible - Go to audible.com/spirits or text spirits to 500-500 to start your free trial and redeem your free audiobook. This week Julia recommends The Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurley and Amanda recommends The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo.


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Amanda: Welcome to Spirits podcast, a drunken dive into myths and legends. Every week we pour a drink and learn about a new story from around the world. I am Amanda.

Julia: I'm Julia.

Amanda: This is episode 72, Lord of the Rings with Emma Sherr-Ziarko.

Julia: Yeah. I really, really liked this episode, actually. I thought I knew a lot about Lord of the Rings, I do not know a lot about Lord of the Rings.

Amanda: I thought a knew a normal amount about Lord of the Rings, turns out, I know nothing.

Julia: Yeah. Apparently I know nothing, and it's wonderful, because Emma does an amazing job explaining it to us.

Amanda: Yes, we recorded this an embarrassing number of months ago with her, which is why you're going to hear us talk about how hot it is.

Julia: She was in town to record the Wolf 359 finale, that's how long it's been.

Amanda: Which, you know, you can now binge that, so you're welcome. It's a great podcast.

Julia: You're welcome. Speaking of which, you might recognize Emma as the voice of Commander Minkowski, who is wonderful, and an amazing human being, and I would marry her if I could marry fictional characters.

Amanda: Emma also now hosts a podcast called Pairing, where she pairs wine with art and culture, and it is absolutely delightful, and if you like the show, you're gonna like that one.

Julia: Yeah, and the reason that she is so qualified for pairing wine with art and culture, is because she is sommelier, and she talks a little bit about that in this episode.

Amanda: We really stoked to get there, but first, we would like to thank our newest patrons. Ashley, Jesse, 1159 to Midnight, which is a great name, Jeremy, Miriam, and Daniel, welcome.

Julia: Yes, and thank you, as always, to our supporting patrons. Neil, Philip, Julie, Sara, Kristina, Josh, Eeyore, Maria, Cam, Lindsey, Ryan, Lynn, Mercedes, Phil, and Debora.

Amanda: As well as our legend level patrons who are getting a very special boozy related package next week.

Julia: It's really cool.

Amanda: Buggy, Rachel, Sandra, Ashley Marie, Leann, Shannon, Cassie, and Ashley.

Julia: You guys definitely are descendant from cool boat seafaring elves, that's what I remember about this episode. Yup, checks out.

Amanda: When you're on your next boat journey, whether you're an elf or not, you should download an audible audio book. They are our sponsor this week, and we're gonna tell you about two fantastic books later in the episode. But for now, you can go to audible.com/spirits to start your free trial and redeem their offer for a free book, or text spirits to 500500.

Julia: This week, we want to remind you, hey, our Patreon exists.

Amanda: Patreon.

Julia: We super wanna go to Spaghetti Warehouse in Akron, Ohio.

Amanda: We want to go to Akron. It is the time of year where it's actually okay to visit the Midwest-

Julia: Yes.

Amanda: ... and I wanna do it. I wanna see editor Eric, I wanna go eat in the trolley.

Julia: Yes. I wanna eat in the trolley, too, and if you pledge just one dollar an episode to our Patreon account, you make it easier for us to get to Akron, Ohio, which is a thing that I would never say in real life.

Amanda: We are not that far away from this Patreon goal, so thank you so much to all of you who have supported us so far, and for those who are about to join, we salute you. That's a pop culture reference, I think.

Julia: Yeah? About to die, but about to join is also good, too.

Amanda: Oh, okay. Well, we're also gonna raise our glasses, so thank you so much again to everyone who listens, who supports, who recommends the show. Without further adieu, enjoy Spirits podcast episode 72, Lord of the Rings with Emma Sherri-Zingaro.

[Theme Music]

Amanda: Welcome to Spirits, someone whose voice we've been listening to for several years at this point, and who is an incredible actress, and has an actual book on our table, which we've never had before.

Julia: I don't think so.

Emma: Really? No one's brought a book to your table before?

Amanda: Emma Sherr-Ziarko—

Emma: Hi.

Amanda: Welcome to Spirits.

Emma: Thank you. Thank you. I'm so thrilled to be here, because, as we were just saying, I am a recent Spirits convert, aficionado, and so I'm so excited to be here, and talking about my favorite nerdy thing.

Amanda: You're like a five year vintage, instead of like the 25 year vintage, or whatever.

Emma: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Points for wine reference.

Amanda: Did it.

Julia: I think you were just applying your whiskey knowledge to wine.

Emma: A 25 year vintage for wine is like pretty old.

Amanda: Pretty good.

Emma: It's very good.

Amanda: I had a 1980 Opus at my uncle's house the other day.

Emma: Oh my God.

Amanda: He's like, "I got this... your Aunt gave this to me as an anniversary present back in 1980."

Emma: That's amazing.

Amanda: I just had this case for forever.

Emma: That's amazing.

Amanda: It was really fucking good.

Emma: There's a lot of people who come in because I work in a wine store and there's a lot of people who come and are like, "I just had a baby, I want to buy a really good wine that's current vintage so that I can give it to them in 21 years."

Amanda: That's adorable.

Emma: It's very cute and it's a great idea.

Amanda: Wish my parents had that foresight. I have a baby, I can't right now with anything.

Emma: It's sort of demonstrative of certain priorities, the fact that new parents are thinking about giving wine in 21 years. But-

Amanda: Listen, My priorities always surround wine. Always.

Emma: Oh yeah, me too. Me too.

Amanda: Non stop. Love it. So Emma, What are you gonna talk about?

Emma: So, I'm gonna talk about Tolkien, and the Silmarillion, and the myths and legends of middle earth tonight.

Amanda: I'm fanning myself because I know we have plenty of fans who are interested in this topic. Also, I'm a little hot right now because it's 87 degrees.

Emma: It's also hot, but It's also like, Oh my God Tolkien.

Amanda: This is probably gonna air in the middle of winter and everyone's like, "What are you talking about?".

Julia: Yeah, and be like, "Oh my God, it's so cold."

Emma: Well, Part of why I brought the book is because, as I believe it was George Bush... George W Bush says, the great things about books is that sometimes they have pictures.

Julia: I was gonna say, this is the first time anyone has quoted George Bush on this show.

Emma: I'm not sure, I don't know if he actually said that or not. I think somebody said that he said that one time -

Amanda: Listen,

Julia: Also, We'll take any apocryphal story about George W. Bush on this show.

Emma: Right, right. Exactly.

Amanda: What a simpler time, right y'all?

Emma: Those seem like really wonderful times at this point.

Amanda: I know. Maybe that's the long con.

Emma: Yep. I love this edition of the Silmarillion because it's got this nice map of... So this is before Middle Earth. The Silmarillion takes place before during the creation of time in Tolkien's world that he created and the first age of the world. The Lord of the Rings, which were all a little more familiar with, takes place during the third age, If that gives it a little bit of context.

Amanda: So like, a millennia or two.

Emma: Yeah. Yes.

Amanda: Nice. Throw in a couple centuries for change.

Emma: Exactly. So there's a few different ways I could talk about this. There's the whole creation myth aspect to the Silmarillion and you kinda have to get through that. And it's a fantasy book, but it's written more like a history, and or, Biblical text. So it's tough to get through sometimes. You have to read a lot of names and you have to like... Luckily Christopher Tolkien, J.R. Tolkien's son, has little references in the back otherwise it would be totally impossible.

Julia: Gotcha.

Amanda: Wow. That's some like, Norton Anthology of Poetry style end notes.

Emma: Totally.

Julia: Well, it's also kind of like Game of Thrones. At the end of the Game of Thrones... or the the Song of Ice and Fire books, they have all the lists of the houses and everybody in the house because it gets really hard to-

Amanda: After reading the first book I turned the last page, went right back to the first page and read it again. Because I was like, "Oh, I know who everybody is now. This is helpful."

Julia: Yeah! That's awesome.

Amanda: Which why I encourage people to watch the show and then go for it.

Emma: So just to talk a little bit about Tolkien and his context. He was a philologist as well as an author, so I had to look this up.

Amanda: Wait, can I guess?

Emma: Yes, please do.

Amanda: Is it the history of philosophy? Either language, ideas, philosophy or the shape head thing.

Emma: It's very much that.

Julia: That was throwing a lot of noodles at the wall there my friend.

Emma: It's the study of the theology, history, literature, linguistics of a culture.

Amanda: Nice!

Emma: Yeah.

Julia: Cool.

Amanda: Yes.

Emma: He's pretty... So basically like, everything about a culture. 'Cause We know Tolkien as a linguist definitely and author. He created several languages for these books that he wrote.

Amanda: Yeah.

Emma: For me, growing up as a kid when I first read these books, this was the closest thing to religion that I ever had. I loved these books so much. And I didn't believe that they'd actually happened, but I believed in the world that he created. They're very special to me and hold a very dear place in my heart, as I know they do for many people.

                        So anyway, There's the creation of the world and then it's kind of boring and then…

Amanda: Like the Bible.

Emma: Yeah, like in the way that the bible is both beautiful and interesting and boring. So there's a fair amount of that in this book, but then once the elves come into the picture-

Julia: Nice.

Amanda: That's when things get weird.

Emma: That's when things get crazy.

Julia: I love it.

Emma: No, they actually do. So I guess maybe the easiest way to talk about it is just to give it a little brief overview of what you get... What you're getting into when you read the Silmarillion.

Julia: Do it up.

Emma: So the first part of the book, which is not technically part of the Silmarillion, is called Ainulindalë. In Tolkien's language Ainulindalë means the music of the Ainur. What I find very interesting about Tolkien's theology, or the religion that he created around his world, is that it's both monotheistic and polytheistic.

Julia: Um, tell me more.

Emma: So there is the one god. His name is Eru, or Iluvetar, as he's called later by the Elves.

Julia: I'm sorry? Louis Vuittons?

Emma: Louis Vuitton. So god Louis Vuitton.

Amanda: Because, why give a person one name when you can give them 14?

Emma: So anyway, what I love about this is basically Eru, who's the one god in this world, who's here for the first part and then not really for the rest of the book-

Julia: Clock maker god-

Emma: Yep, totally. He creates the world by creating music. And so he's got all his angels, which essentially angels, who are called the Ainur. And they create music together and that music creates the world.

Julia: Cool.

Amanda: I like it.

Emma: Yeah. So, the wine that we're drinking, part of the reason why I choose it is 'cause it has a music note.

Julia: It is very good wine listener.

Emma: And it's very tasty.

                        He has all of his angel's create this music. The Ainur, create this music that creates the world essentially, but there's this one guy, Melkor.

Julia: Always that one dude.

Emma: That one guy. Melkor's the worst. He decides right from the get go, he's like, "Nah, I don't like this. I wanna create a dissonant theme to the music of the Iluvetar."

Julia: No!

Amanda: No!

Emma: And so Melkor, of course, ends up being like the devil figure. He's pre Sauron, so if you know Lord of the Rings, if you've seen it you know Sauron's the dark lord. He's the big bad... okay, so Melkor creates this dissonant theme. Iluvetar is basic... Eru is kind of like, "You know what? It's all part of my design. Now I'm gonna send a bunch of my angels, My Ainur, down to earth to create it and make it ready for my children. So the children of Iluvetar are the elves and the men and they're gonna wake up at different times.

Amanda: I feel like the dwarves got a bad rap here.

Julia: I know.

Emma: Well okay, so I'll talk about the dwarves in a minute.

Julia: Sorry, I just like... Immediately my thought was, "...but the dwarves."

Emma: No, no. This is one of my favorite parts of the story. This is where it becomes polytheistic.

Julia: Okay.

Emma: It start out like, okay there's god. He creates everything. Cool. Once he sends his minions down to kind of take care of the world and make the world ready, then we're looking at the Valar, or the Valaar, who become kind of the gods. And you definitely see influence from Greek myths, Norse myths, in many of these gods. The Valar get sent down to earth essentially is what it is, or Middle Earth. It's called Arda.

                        So the main gods are, Manwe is like the head hancho. He's kind of Zeus like. He's the god of the skies, He's-

Amanda: Sleeps with everybody.

Emma: He doesn't. There's not a lot of sex in Tolkien.

Julia: That's good.

Emma: Yeah. His wife. His mate, I guess, is Varda. And she is actually talked about way more in the Lord of the Rings because the Elves worship her above all others because she's kind of like the goddess of the stars.

Amanda: Good job Elves.

Julia: Right?

Amanda: Sounds right.

Emma: Totes. So anyway, There's Manwe and Varda and they live up on a mountain, kind of like Olympus.

Julia: Olympus.

Amanda: Nice. Nice. It's a metaphor.

Emma: It's called Taniquetil. They live in the holy land, which is called Aman, and the city of Valinor is where. So in the Lord of the Rings you hear a little bit about Valinor and that's what they're talking about. That's where the gods live. It's kind of Asgardian, a little bit, but not like a planet or like a world. Just like an Island.

Julia: Gotcha. Kind of like Avalon.

Emma: Yeah. Kind of.

Julia: Cool. Breaking out all the—

Emma: Totally.

Julia: She's like, "Damn girl, you got one."

Amanda: Yes.

Emma: For sure.

Amanda: Do you think that he was making all of the mythologies that he knew so much about better? Or was he kind of like, "you guys don't even know how this could be.", and just kind of remixing them in an interesting way?

Emma: Yeah. I've heard a lot of different things about what he thought about what he was doing. In the forward to Lord of the Rings, which I was reading recently, he writes that... You know, 'cause in the Lord of the Rings a lot of people say, "Oh this is so clearly influenced by your experience in World War One."

Amanda: Alright biographical scholars.

Emma: Yeah.

Julia: You sure about that?

Amanda: Give it a second.

Julia: So basically what Tolkien says is, "Look I didn't make anything... I didn't write anything to be a direct allegory or analogy to-

Amanda: That was for C.S. Lewis' to do.

Emma: Exactly.

Julia: Oh sick burn!

Emma: They were a part of the Inklings. The literary society at Oxford together.

Amanda: Hey! What a dream right?

Emma: I know, right?

Amanda: To get those guys drunk and just hang with them.

Emma: Totally. If I could go back in time-

Amanda: Right?

Emma: Totally.

Amanda: Meet me in Cambridge in nineteen fuckin... whatever, thirty.

Emma: Yeah, it was the 30's and 40's I think.

Julia: Amanda's dream is just to go back in history and join a bunch of societies.

Emma: Yeah! So anyways, I feel like with Tolkien he wasn't purposefully trying to use anything so directly. I think he was just sort of influenced by everything around him. Which is why I think it's very interesting that he's got the one god and then once creations over you have the many gods. It turns from a very Judeo Christian kind of sounding myth into a more polytheistic, kind of Pagan theology.

Julia: That's a really interesting transition just from a prehistorical perspective.

Emma: It is.

Julia: Because usually it is the opposite.

Emma: Exactly. And so the one god Eru, he's mentioned periodically throughout the book. Like he exists, but the Valar are much more central players in the story.

Amanda: So tell us how they come about and how they-

Emma: They're spirits who come down to earth and one of them is Melkor, this guy with the dissonant theme.

Julia: That douche bag.

Emma: That douche bag who-

Amanda: I just keep picturing Melchior Gabor from Spring Awakening.

Julia: Yeah, I know. I know.

Amanda: Like, fuckin' of course this is the one.

Emma: No, totally.

Amanda: The shit stirrer.

Emma: And I was looking it up. I was like, "Did he name him Melkor, Like was that a reference to Melchior?". 'Cause there are many historical Melchiors, and I don't think so. I think he was just like... that's the name he chose.

Amanda: And Tokien made up thousands of names.

Emma: So many names!

Julia: So many names.

Amanda: At some point some of them are gonna have some repeats.

Emma: Also, the really frustrating thing is that he often reuses names and so like-

Amanda: No!

Emma: Celeborn is both the name of Galadrial's husband and the name of a tree. And it's a very important tree and yeah, it's like-

Julia: I mean it kinda makes sense just from a historical perspective. Think how many James' there are in the world.

Amanda: There are gonna be Johns. There are gonna be Daniels.

Emma: Yeah. That's fair.

Amanda: Yeah.

Emma: Okay, so they're the Valor. There's Manwe, Varda, who are kind of like the sky gods. Then there's Aule, and he's the one who's responsible for making the dwarves.

Julia: There we go! That's what I wanted to hear.

Emma: Yes. Aule is kind of like the smith god.

Amanda: Nice.

Emma: He's kind of like Hephaestus.

Amanda: Aule, getting it done.

Emma: Yeah. For sure.

Amanda: I think that's the only way that I'm gonna be able to remember any of these names is to give them a really cute tagline.

Emma: Totally.

Amanda: Like, Aule: Gettin' It Done.

Julia: That's how I got through learning wrestling names Amanda.

Emma: That's amazing.

Julia: They all just became, Blah Blah Dad.

Amanda: Yeah, that's the only reason that I know any of those wrestlers names Jules.

Julia: Money Dad. Shane McMahmon.

Amanda: Shane McMahon. Team Shane.

Emma: And so Aule is married to Yavanna, who's kind of like the earth goddess. She is like Gaya. She creates trees and plants.

Amanda: Yavanna, get centered.

Julia: Yeah. Totally.

Emma: So Aule at a certain point creates the dwarves, because he's like, "I can't wait for the elves and the men. I can't wait for it."

Julia: Oh so the dwarves predated the elves and the humans.

Emma: The predated the dwarves and the elves technically, but once he creates them, then Eru, the one god is like, "I didn't say you could do that."

Julia: He's like, "Nah, it's Elf time!"

Emma: He's like, "I didn't say you could do that", and Aule was like... and this was very... I think this was very kind of Abraham-esque, but Aule's ready to like, smash the dwarves and kill them.

Amanda: To prove that he is loyal.

Julia: Oh no!

Emma: Yeah. And Eru's like, "No no no. It's cool, but you just have to put them to sleep until after the elves wake up."

Amanda: Awe.

Julia: Those elves gettin' preferential treatment over those dwarves.

Amanda: Such BS.

Emma: I know. So much privilege. So Aule creates the dwarves, put's them back to sleep until such time that they can wake up again. But Yavanna's like, "I don't really like this because the dwarves are gonna cut down the trees that I planted and their gonna keep destroying nature that I created." So she goes to Eru and is kind of like, "I don't like this." And he's like, "Okay. Okay, what will do is we'll give your creations a voice as well." So those are the Ents that we see in Lord of the Rings.

Amanda: Oh! Tree people?

Julia: Yeah.

Emma: Yeah, the tree people.

Amanda: Nice.

Emma: I know. I love that story. That's one of my favorite parts of the early part of the book, is Aule's like,"I really want kids." And he creates his kids and Eru's like, "Not yet." And then Yavanna's like, "I don't know if I like his kids." And so the god is like, "I'll let you create your own kids that can kinda counter his kids." It's just a funny story.

Julia: Just imagining this as a very dysfunctional family.

Emma: Yeah.

Julia: Where the cousin you don't like has children, and you're like, "Well we have to have kids now so that these little fuckers don't mess with me."

Emma: Totally.

Amanda: I was picturing a bunch of false starts in a board game where everyone's like, "Oh my god, I'm so excited!" And then just like, not yet. Not yet.

Emma: Not yet.

Julia: I can't play that card until the third turn. Why mom?

Emma: There's two more important gods to talk about that are Valar. One is Ulmo. Who's very much Poseidon. He's the god of the sea.

Amanda: Sweet.

Emma: And kind of plays a role more than any other gods in this story, because he's the god of the sea. So he can go to Arda or Beleriand as it's called.

Amanda: Oh, so it's a physical Island?

Emma: Yeah.

Amanda: So he can go across those two realms.

Emma: Yeah, exactly. So he spends more time with elves and men during this story than any other of the Valar.

Julia: That's super interesting, 'cause I don't think of the sea very often when I think of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

Emma: Right. It's not-

Amanda: It's very much like, mountains, rocks, under the earth.

Emma: The Sea is much more important in the Silmarillion.

Amanda: Which makes sense, because that's more pf like a primal humanity feature in terms of things that are just elemental to us early and then we get all caught up... Like making our own structures, civilizations, adapting nature to our own purposes and it makes sense that it would be less present.

Emma: And then part of it is that during this first early age of the world the elves and men are much more connected to Valinor and to the gods who live there. They're real beings to them, while in the Lord of the rings it's more like they're theoretical ideas.

Amanda: Which happens.

Emma: They exist but they're more of an idea than they are a reality.

Amanda: Wow. You moved from that very much like anthropomorphic god to something a little bit more omniscient.

Emma: Absolutely.

Amanda: Theoretical.

Emma: So There's Ulmo and then there's Mandos, who's very much a Hades figure.

Amanda: It sounds like a good Hades type name.

Emma: It is.

Amanda: Mandos.

Julia: Mandos.

Emma: Mandos. And Mandos guards the hall... the gates of the dead essentially. The hall of the dead. And he gives judgment in certain situations.

Amanda: What would like, an anti judgmental death god look like?

Emma: An anti judgmental-

Amanda: Someone who's just like, "You did okay bud."

Julia: I feel like there wouldn't be one. They would just enter and it would be like a lack of judgment and lack of god in that sense.

Amanda: It'd just be really good therapy.

Emma: Totally. So that actually leads me to the Vala that I'm most interested in.

Amanda: Whoa.

Emma: And her name is Nienna and she-

Amanda: It's a good name.

Emma: It is a good name. And she's kind of just like the goddess of sorrow.

Julia: Awe.

Emma: But not just sorrow, but the goddess of empathy. Like real sorrow.

Amanda: Wow.

Emma: Yeah.

Julia: I love that.

Emma: I love that. And she's so-

Amanda: Julia wants 4 of them right now.

Emma: I know. Let's do that spin off series. Let's find out more about Nienna, the goddess of empathy.

Julia: You know what, the fact that they come from music and create music in order to create the world, it makes so much sense to have a goddess that fits that category.

Emma: Yes. Absolutely.

Julia: Because somebody who controls emotion and embodies emotion that 100% fits with the world building that he establishes.

Amanda: I love it.

Emma: Yeah, me too. And I reread this recently and I was just like, "Oh my God, yeah." Because she's not very important to the story, but she's one of the most interesting creations that Tolkien made, to me.

Julia: Hell yeah.

Amanda: Amazing.

Emma: So those are the Valar. There's also the Maiar, who are kind of the spirits just below the Valar.

Julia: Okay.

Emma: One of those is Olorin, who again, doesn't really factor into the Silmarillion, but that's Gandalf. Yep, Gandalf is totally, kind of a god.

Amanda: Wow.

Emma: Yeah.

Julia: That's kind of amazing.

Emma: Isn't that awesome? The wizards are gods who get sent to earth in the third age.

Amanda: Whoa.

Julia: And become giant dorks.

Emma: Yep. Pretty much. And like to smoke weed.

Julia: Got that good Hobbit Cush.

Emma: Yeah, for real.

Julia: Amanda's blinking at me. Did you not know that he smokes week in the books?

Amanda: No!

Emma: Yeah,

Julia: Your love of the halflings leaf has clearly slowed your mind.

Amanda: That too.

Julia: 'Cause he's smoking mad weed and then he makes weird smoke rings, where they're not smoke rings their like, ships and shit that he can just blow out.

Emma: Yeah. He's totally smokin' weed.

Julia: It's beautiful.

Amanda: Cool. In character. 420 blaze it.

Emma: For sure.

Amanda: Dash Gandalf.

Emma: Okay, so the gods come down, Melkor is like, "I'm gonna destroy whatever you create." And they're like, "You know what? We put up with that for a while, but now we're gonna chain you and put you in prison-

Julia: Makes sense.

Amanda: Fair.

Emma: -So you don't destroy the world."

Julia: Maybe don't.

Amanda: Maybe try not.

Emma: But they don't banish him from the world. They just chain him up for a while. Varda creates the stars and that's when the elves wake up. The elves are called the Eldar, because they're the star people. Speaking of the moon. At the point in the history of time in Tolkien's conception of it, the sun and the moon don't exist yet but-

Amanda: That seems like a problem.

Emma: But there these two trees. So Yavanna, earth goddess, creates two trees... or she plants two trees and they grow and they sort of have the light of the sun and the moon before the sun and the moon exist.

Amanda: Oh.

Emma: The sun one is called Laurelin and the moon one is called Telperion I believe. And so Orome, the hunter god, he finds the elves. He brings them back, but not all of them want to go to Valinor, so some of them stay on earth.

Julia: Huh.

Amanda: Okay.

Emma: And Some of them go with him. There's three races of elves that are important. There's the Vanyar, the Noldor, and the Teleri. And this story focuses very much on the Noldor. The Noldor are the most important. And the most important guy, his name is Feanor, because he creates the Silmarils, which is what the Silmarillion is named after.

Julia: I was gonna be like, "That sounds familiar."

Emma: The Silmarils are these three jewels essentially, that he creates. So it's very interesting in Tolkin... 'cause in the Lord of the Rings, it's like, okay the ring is evil. And in Tolkien there's very much this theme of worshiping objects and those objects betraying you. And so Everyone loves these Silmarils so much, and covets them so much. Including Melkor, who gets released at a certain point, which is not a great idea.

Julia: Yeah, that happens sometimes.

Emma: Melkor eventually poisons all of the Noldor against the Valar, the gods, and convinces them that they're conspiring against them and trying to keep them from having dominion over the earth.

Julia: I was worried that he actually poisoned them and it was like a weird genocide thing.

Emma: No. No, he doesn't actually poison them.

Julia: That's good.

Emma: He's very Loki slash Devil like.

Julia: Gotcha.

Emma: So eventually Feanor becomes separated from the rest of the Noldor and they don't really like each other. And it's very complicated. There's lots of names that begin with F. THere's Fingolfin and Finarfin-

Julia: Fingolfin.

Amanda: Nice.

Emma: Yeah, Fingolfin. That's also what I want to name my child.

Julia: Let's talk about that.

Emma: Yeah, we'll talk... You can talk me out of it later.

                        Fingolfin, Finarfin are the brothers of Feanor. They all have children, Feanor has seven sons.

Amanda: Uh oh.

Julia: Always a good number.

Emma: Yeah.

Amanda: Something's gonna happen to that family.

Julia: The seventh son-

Amanda: It's a werewolf usually.

Emma: Yeah.

Amanda: Or the chosen one. It's a weird combo.

Emma: Interesting. Things don't go well for Feanor and his seven sons.

Julia: Yikes.

Emma: So basically he decides to lead all the Noldor back into Beleriand, or the earth, where the main action happens away from the holy land. Away from Valinor.

Amanda: Gotcha.

Emma: And he unfortunately-

Amanda: Dies?

Emma: No. He kills a bunch of the Teleri-

Amanda: Worse. Got worse.

Emma: - who are the sea elves.

Julia: Oh no.

Amanda: No! The good ones.

Emma: Yeah. To steal their boats.

Julia: No! Just steal the boats.

Emma: And so-

Julia: Just perform a rap song and say thank you and then leave.

Emma: Yeah. It gets worse too. He and his seven sons, not all of whom are down with what he's doing, they take the boats and they go across the sea and they land on Beleriand in earth, where they're gonna start to live. And they're like, "Cool, should we send the boats back now to bring the rest of our people over?" And he's like. "Nah, we're gonna burn-"

Amanda: No!

Julia: Nah, fuck em!

Emma: Yeah. And so many of his sons are like, "Oh shit, that sucks kinda."

Julia: Okay dad.

Emma: And by this point Melkor, who's now named Morgoth-

Amanda: 'Cause why not. Why not.

Julia: Wait, is Morgoth the giant fire guy?

Emma: No. So that's a Balrog of Morgath. And so Balrogs-

Julia: Listen…

Amanda: Julie was like, "Uh, I'm sorry.

Emma: If you remember, Orlando Bloom in most of the Lord of the Rings movies, always states the obvious. So in the first movie, when they're in Moria underground, and he's like, "It's a Balrog of Morgath." And-

Amanda: Classic audience surrogate Orlando Bloom.

Emma: Totally. Oh, let's back track a little bit. Galadrial is one of these first elves. She's one of the Noldor.

Amanda: The Lady one. Hot one.

Emma: She's the lady one. She's Cate Blanchett.

Amanda: Very important actress because otherwise I wouldn't picture it.

Emma: Yeah. So she is one of those elves and she comes... She's one of the ones that gets left behind after he burns the ships.

Amanda: Right.

Emma: Feanor burns the ships. She and a bunch of the other Noldor, they decide to walk across this land of ice to get into earth.

Amanda: Whoa.

Emma: So they get to Beleriand and Morgoth's like, "I'm gonna kill you." And he doesn't kill them all but he does... Feanor does die. The guy who made the Silmarils dies. Oh, but I forgot this part, This is the important part. There is now a Feanor and his seven sons because they have vowed an oath-

Amanda: Obvi.

Julia: Hold on, is this how we get the ring wreaths or no?

Emma: No.

Julia: I mean I immediately go, curse and then weird dudes in cloaks?

Emma: Well there's very much a parallel between this story and what happens in the Lord of the Rings.

Julia: Okay. Cool.

Amanda: It's like it's textually setting precedence for the main series.

Emma: Yeah. Also at this point Morgoth has the Silmarils. He steals them with the first giant spider evil lady Ungoliant.

Julia: Of course.

Amanda: I'm sorry, there's more than one?

Emma: Yeah, there's Ungoliant-

Julia: They just can't livin' Amanda, they gotta-

Emma: She's kind of a badass too. She's more of a badass than shelob because she can create a cloak of darkness and she eats light.

Julia: Dope.

Emma: She eats light and that kind of feeds her and she creates more darkness from it.

Amanda: Ew.

Emma: She actually kills those two trees that are so important.

Julia: God damn it.

Emma: I know.

Julia: Stop killing the cool Ents and Trees and shit.

Emma: I know. But Yavanna is able to save just a little bit from the trees and from that she makes the sun and the moon.

Amanda: Whoa. She did good. Imagine if the trees were still there, how brilliant and bright that would be.

Emma: Can you imagine? Maybe a little too bright.

Amanda: It's almost like an allegory for moralism.

Emma: Yeah!

Amanda: I can't really stick to the particulars of the story 'cause I'm two gins in-

Emma: Oh that's fine.

Amanda: But I can definitely pick up on the shape of it.

Emma: And that's the important part.

Amanda: Yeah.

Emma: And this is the thing, is that unless you're a nerd like me, you gotta go for the good stuff in this book.

Amanda: But isn't that why it's cool as a series? Like casual readers or listeners can enjoy the fact of it.

Emma: I think so.

Amanda: And nerds can like dig in, literally, endlessly.

Julia: That is true,

Emma: I really like that. And so I do want to get to the... There's a couple of really great stories in the book that's not just like history and-

Julia: Hell yeah.

[Theme music]

Amanda: This is a heck of an episode and, Jules, I know that people who love stories are going to be loving this ep. But they can only listen to Spirit so many times. Maybe 3 or 4 times through the back catalog. Once they run out what's a girls or guy or NB to do with their time?

Julia: I mean obviously go down load an audio book from audible.

Amanda: Audible.com/spirits in fact. Or this is fun. You could even text Spirits to 500500 and get the URL texted to your phone. Texting is so easy. If you don't wanna remember so many things or just wanna remember numbers just text spirits 500500.

Julia: It's super easy.

Amanda: Jules, what book are you recommending this week?

Julia: I am recommending this week, The Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurly. It is a beautiful space opera that is just angry and like... It's like, it makes me feel a lot of things, but as someone who's typically described as a podcast barbarian-

Amanda: Self described.

Julia: I really love the way that Kameron uses rage as a reading lens for this story and all about war and memory. And like, Moral and gray moral ambiguity and it's beautiful.

Amanda: Our favorite stuff.

Julia: And also it's Sapphic lesbian sci-fi in space.

Amanda: W-L-W space.

Julia: Yep.

Amanda: Love it.

Julia: Wonderful.

Amanda: And this week I am gonna recommend an awesome book, not in space, but in Harlem, called The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo. 

Julia: Those are very different places.

Amanda: Yes. She is a spoken word poet and this is a really beautiful kind of short audio book. Just 3 and a half hours, narrated by her, so you really get that beautiful performance quality to the narrative. It's like the best of poetry with a long enough narrative that it will take several commutes or car washing or gym sessions or whatever it is that you're gonna do. But it's incredible. it's like a Novel that's in verse as well, so it's story, it's rhythmic, it is entrancing and I cannot recommend it enough.

Julia: Yeah it's beautiful. And the nice part about Audible too is, hey if you get an audio book and you don't like it or the story just isn't for you or something like that, they have a great listing guarantee. So if you don't like it you can just swap it out for something new.

Amanda: Yeah, you can control the speed of the audio book, you can switch back and forth between, like and E book and the audio book with their Whisper Sync for voice. And my favorite thing is that you own the book. So even if you decide to take a pause or suspend your membership you still own the book. You can still listen to it. It's not like a rental or streaming type situation.

Julia: Yeah, so you can get started. Just go to audible.com/spirits and browse the unmatched selection of audio programs. And you can download a title for free and start listening today. It's that easy.

Amanda: Yeah, or if you want, you can text spirits to 500500 and get that link texted to you.

                        Right on.

Julia: Right on.

Amanda: Thanks Audible for sponsoring us.

Julia: Yeah, thanks Audible.

Amanda: And now let's get back to the journey.

[Theme music]

Emma: The first story is the story of Beren and Luthien, which is very much the predecessor to Aragorn and Arwen.

Amanda: Nice.

Julia: I like the name Luthien. I'm not gonna lie. It's pretty cool.

Emma: Yes. So... Back tracking again a little bit. When the elves first came to be the Teleri, the sea elves, some of them stayed behind.

Amanda: Cool.

Emma: And most of them followed this one guy who now is known by Thingol.

Julia: Not my favorite name.

Amanda: Not the greatest name.

Emma: Not the best name.

Amanda: Unless you meet a really hot guy, then he's like, "Hi, I'm Wilbur." And you're like, "Oh."

Emma: The way he's described in the book... So basically he falls in love with one of the Maiar, who are like the lesser gods, who happen to be-

Julia: Gotcha.

Amanda: The wizard level people.

Emma: Sort of, yeah. And her name is Melian.

Amanda: Good witch name.

Emma: Kind of a nice name. She's kind of a witch. She's kind of like, in a forest, witch.

Amanda: Same.

Emma: And so they fall in love and he becomes kind of like a silver fox. His hair turns gray

Julia: Hot.

Emma: And so all of his followers are now called the Gray Elves or the Sindar.

Julia: I had to fan myself. Hell yeah. That's my jam.

Amanda: Julia's in.

Emma: So they have this domain in the center of the earth called Doriath and Melian kind of protects their forest so that no evil can come into it.

Amanda: Nice.

Emma: And they have a daughter named Luthien. And Luthien is half elf, half god kind of.

Amanda: Wow.

Julia: Amazing.

Emma: And is like, so pretty, and dances and is like... really pretty. When the sun and the moon are created... when the sun rises for the first time, that's when the men wake up. That's when humans wake up.

Julia: Gotcha.

Amanda: Ru-roe.

Emma: And so elves don't die unless they're killed, unless they're slain. But men do die and we don't know what happens to them after they die.

Amanda: Really?

Emma: Yeah. It's a really beautiful thing that Tolkien talks about in the book.

Amanda: Wow.

Emma: The way he talks about the fate of men. And no one knows where they go. And that in itself is a gift. So I think it's kind of like-

Amanda: Oh shit. We weren't prepared for this to get real.

Emma: I know. It gets pretty intense.

Amanda: Wow.

Emma: Like, the elves, they die but then they go to the hall of Mandos, the kind of Hades god. And then after like 1,000 years they can come back to life if they want to.

Amanda: Wow.

Julia: That seems like a sweet deal as well.

Emma: Yeah, you know? Like, I'm not sure. I think I would prefer the eternal life thing, but I like the way Tolkien kind of talks about death. And not like a curse. It can be a good thing.

Amanda: It's a beautiful mystery or an opportunity.

Emma: Yeah.

Amanda: Which I think is really cool.

Emma: Some men are like... The elves are like, "cool, were down with you." And one of those is the family that Beren comes from. And there's a bunch of battles and things are not looking good for our heroes.

Julia: Oh no.

Emma: But some how Beren makes it into this magical land of Doriath. The forest where-

Julia: Good job Beren.

Amanda: Whoa.

Emma: Yeah. And he sees Luthien and he's like, "Oh my god, I love you. And I wanna-

Amanda: Classic scene. Classic.

Emma: - I wanna marry you and spend all our time together." And so eventually she's like, "Yeah I kind of love you too."

Amanda: Awe. Nice. That rarely happens.

Emma: "My dad's really not gonna like this." And so they go and talk to Thingol, her dad.

Amanda: Fucking Thingol.

Julia: Oh poor Thingol.

Amanda: Awe.

Julia: You have such a good daughters name and then there's Thingol.

Emma: I know. There's Thingol, Melian and Luthien. The ladies have such pretty names.

Amanda: Luthien has a lady, as a lady particularly. Like, fuck yeah. Sign me up.

Emma: Yeah, for sure. What I love about this story is that it's like a fairy tail romance but Luthien is totally, way more of a badass than Beren is.

Amanda: So good,

Emma: Basically Thingol tells Beren, "If you want to marry my daughter, you have to go get a Silmaril from Morgoth.

Amanda: Ew.

Julia: That's not good.

Amanda: And you can't just go to Cheesecake Factory.

Emma: No.

Julia: Can't just get it from the Cheese Cake Factory.

Amanda: Nope. You can't.

Emma: We don't have the eye of Sauron yet. So at one point he does have to fight Sauron-

Amanda: Sweet.

Emma: - Who is kind of like a servant of Morgoth. And actually, I believe Luthien is the one who defeats Sauron in that situation, 'cause she always does.

Amanda: Hell Yeah.

Emma: So basically what happens is Beren goes off to get the Silmaril and he finds one of the elf friends and the ygo on this journey together, but then they find Sauron. Sauron kills everyone except Beren and he turns himself into a werewolf.

Julia: Cool.

Amanda: Whoa.

Emma: There's werewolves and Vampires in this story.

Amanda: What?!

Julia: So good.

Emma: I know. It's so good. You don't see enough of that in Tolkien, in Lord of the Rings.

Amanda: Sounds like a mini series.

Emma: Totally. Oh my God. This is like my life dream, to make-

Amanda: This could be the next Game of Thrones yo.

Emma: It totally could. She finds this kind of magical dog, whos name is Huan and he's her loyal faithful servant. 

Amanda: Awe.

Julia: Awe.

Amanda: I love it so much.

Emma: So she gets to ride him and find Beren.

Amanda: Awe.

Emma: Oh yeah. When Beren first leaves and she wants to go after him, of course her father locks her in a tree.

Julia: "No you cannot."

Amanda: Yeah. You know, in a tree like you do when your half elf.

Emma: But she's magic, so she grows her hair out really long and she climbs down her hair.

Julia: Oh, she Rapunzels herself.

Emma: Yeah. She Rapunzels herself.

Julia: Okay. Cool.

Emma: She totes Rapunzels herself.

Amanda: She Rap-Punzels down the side of the tower!

Emma: Yeah!

Julia: Oh I get it.

Amanda: So dorky.

Julia: Like rappel.

Emma: I got it.

Julia: Just checking.

Emma: And then she finds Huan the dog and they go and find Beren. All of his elf friends have died, but she and the wolves are evil. Tolkien really doesn't like wolves and really eagles.

Julia: Understandable.

Amanda: Okay.

Emma: Eagles are a really big theme. But Luthien goes and basically rescues Beren, because men need rescuing by women.

Amanda: Classic.

Julia: Good. I'm glad Tolkien understood that.

Emma: He did. He really did. Very much in the Silmarillion, it's very much like, "Yeah, listen to the women.

                        So then they go to where Morgoth is in Angband. Angband is like, the first Mordor.

Amanda: Whoa.

Emma: Yeah.

Julia: Dope.

Amanda: Wanna hang out there.

Julia: Do you?

Amanda: New York's hottest club.

Julia: That's like, The Snake Hole Lounge.

Amanda: You need an eagle to get in.

Julia: Yeah!

Amanda: You need two eagles to get in.

Julia: Pawnee's most dangerous hottest club.

Emma: Yeah!

Julia: It only said dangerous.

Emma: They go to Angband and there's of course a wolf.

Amanda: Gotta be.

Emma: Oh yeah, and she is dressed... She's put on the hide of a vampire and he's put on the hide of a wolf, and that's how their disguised.

Julia: Dope.

Amanda: Okay. Strong look.

Julia: Doing good.

Emma: For sure, super goth.

Amanda: Truly the gothest. Truly.

Emma: The most goth. But then there's this other wolf guarding the gates of Angband and so Luthien has to cast a spell on him to put him to sleep. And then they go into Angband, and there they find Morgoth who's so much worse than Sauron. He's so evil. And she basically is like, "Beren, I got this." And she dances for him-

Julia: Hell yeah.

Emma: And makes him fall asleep as well.

Julia: Gotcha.

Amanda: Right on.

Emma: So then Beren cuts one Silmaril out from his crown, and he's got it. He's like, "Sweet," but then he gets a little too greedy.

Julia: Nah, man.

Emma: And he's like, "Maybe I can take two."

Julia: Don't Jack and the Bean Stock that shit. 

Emma: Exactly.

Amanda: No!

Emma: So he tries to cut the second one, the blade breaks and cuts Morgoth across the cheek, and he kinda wakes up. So they're like, "We gotta book it." So they run but by that point the wolf... the wolf guardian-

Julia: Done woke up.

Emma: He woke up. And he decides to bite off Beren's hand that has the Silmaril and proceeds to go crazy, because nothing evil can touch the Silmarils without being burned. So he's got this-

Julia: Like burning rock.

Emma: - Holy jewel inside himself.

Amanda: Whoa.

Emma: And it's kind of just burning from within.

Julia: Yikes.

Emma: Yeah. So this wolf goes crazy, like runs away. Beren's kind of like dying, but Luthien sucks the poison out of the wound.

Julia: She's just killing it right now.

Emma: She really is. She's such a badass. And so her dad's like, "Where's the Silmaril?" And Beren's like, "I have it in my hand." And he shows him his cut off hand.

Julia: He's like, "Look at my stump!"

Emma: And he's like, "It's in my hand, I swear."

Julia: "My hand is just in the stomach of a wolf."

Emma: Yeah. Crazy wolf. By this point the wolf has made it's way to the magical forest of Doriath.

Julia: Dope.

Emma: And so Beren and a couple other people go out to hunt it, including Huan the dog.

Julia: Yay.

Amanda: Yay Huan!

Emma: Sadly Huan-

Amanda: No!

Julia: No! Don't deaden our podcast!

Emma: I'm sorry.

Julia: You introduced him just to kill him!

Emma: I'm sorry. He's got more... There's more stuff that happens in the story.

Julia: He lives a full wonderful life.

Amanda: Alright. Alright. Try to make it better. Come on.

Emma: He went to doggy heaven.

Amanda: Okay good. Thank you.

Emma: And-

Amanda: I will choose to believe that.

Emma: Well, actually he did theoretically come from Valinor, so he probably went back there and is just like, "I'm a spirit dog now."

Amanda: Alright, Alright.

Emma: And Beren is mortally wounded as well during this and he dies.

Amanda: Yikes.

Julia: Uh Buddy.

Emma: But Luthien, before he dies, is like, "Don't go away. Don't go to the place that men go when you die. Wait for me."

Amanda: Awe.

Emma: And so he-

Julia: That's really sweet.

Emma: It's very sweet. And also I was reading recently that Tolkien based this story very much on his relationship with his wife.

Julia: No!

Amanda: Awe!

Emma: Who he was with from the time he was 16 to when he died.

Amanda: No, take it back. Take it back.

Julia: Samesies.

Emma: I know, so many feelings. So basically Beren dies, but he goes to Mandos instead of going wherever men go when they die. And Luthien kinda falls into a swoon and her spirit goes to him.

Julia: Cool.

Emma: And they go to Manwe, the kind of Zeus god, for judgment. 'Cause she's like, "I want to save him. I wanna be with him." And Manwe's like, "Okay, either you can stay here in Valinor and live in the holy realm forever or you both can go back to earth, but you're mortal. So you're not gonna live forever and you'll share in the fate of men." And she's like, "I'm totes gonna do the second option."

Julia: This is like a reversed Disney's Hercules.

Emma: Yeah.

Amanda: Yes.

Julia: It's great.

Emma: It is. And this very much like, for those of you who have seen the Lord of the Rings: The Return of The King, the story of Arwen and Aragorn-

Julia: Is basically this.

Emma: It's very, very similar.

Julia: Gotcha.

Emma: But Luthien's way more of a badass than Arwen is. So-

Julia: No offense Arwen.

Emma: No offense Arwen. You're very cool too.

Amanda: And pretty.

Emma: And very pretty also. So they go back and they go back and they live as mortals.

Amanda: Wow.

Julia: Awe.

Emma: And eventually they do die.

Amanda: Alright, but like, they did it.

Julia: But together and in love.

Emma: But together and in love.

Julia: Gotcha.

Emma: So it's a very beautiful story.

Amanda: Awe.

Emma: And this is Tolkien's kind of like, fairy tale romance.

Amanda: Yeah, he did real good.

Julia: I'm happy with it.

Emma: Yeah, apparently-

Julia: Besides the dog dying.

Emma: I know.

Julia: That part's sad.

Emma: I know. The Silmarillion is very dark. Which the next big story, which is the only other big story in the Silmarillion, is the story of Turin Turambar, who's the guy who has like, 17 million names.

Julia: Sounds right.

Amanda: Bring it on.

Emma: I'll do this a little bit more succinctly because it's a litte less... I mean it's a badass story, because there's dragons in it... or there's a dragon in it.

Julia: Sign me up.

Emma: Totally. Basically Turin is a man who after Beren-

Julia: Got a lotta names.

Emma: Yeah, he's got a lot of names. After Beren, Thingol is like, "I like men." So-

Amanda: Couldn't get over Thingol.

Julia: Phrasing. Phrasing.

Amanda: Super in.

Emma: And so Turin gets to go live in Doriath with Melian and Thingol... Can't. Every time.

Julia: Every time.

Amanda: So good.

Emma: So he does, but he grows up and just kind of like... Everything goes wrong with him.

Amanda: Awe.

Emma: And his father is being held captive by Morgoth. And basically Turin... He's such a boy. Like, he gets into a fight, and he throws a glass at this guy. And then the guy follows him the next day and is like, "Why'd you do that? Fight me!" And so Turin like, strips him naked and chases him. And the guy eventually is so scared that falls to his death.

Julia: Dang!

Emma: And Turin's like, "Oh shit. I should probably leave." And so he goes and he joins this band of outlaws. Typical like, join a gang.

Julia: Become a highway men.

Emma: He's just a bad boy.

Amanda: Get a bunch of tattoos.

Emma: Yep. And he kind of takes over this dwarves house.

Julia: Don't do that.

Emma: Yeah, he kind of lives with this dwarf.

Amanda: Poor dwarves!

Emma: I know.

Amanda: My take away here is poor dwarves.

Emma: I know. I know. Dwarves really get the short end of the stick-

Julia: Apparently. Ha. Short end of the stick. ...'cause they're short.

Amanda: Poor dwarves.

Emma: Turin has this one elf friend who comes and follow hin, but he ends up killing him by mistake. And like, everything goes wrong for Turin.

Amanda: No!

Emma: He also has a sister but he has seen his sister or his mother for like 20 years.

Amanda: Is he gonna fall in love with the sister accidentally?

Emma: Uh oh!

Amanda: Yes! I guessed it!

Julia: It's gonna be a Star Wars!

Emma: I like to think of it a little more like, pre Game of Thrones.

Amanda: Okay.

Emma: This is kind of like the more tame version of Game of Thrones.

Amanda: I'm sorry, why haven't I ever called a Game of Thrones release night party, Pre game of Thrones?

Emma: Oh my God!

Julia: We fucked up my friend.

Amanda: We fucked up.

Emma: We fucked up!

Julia: We have one more season that we can use.

Emma: We have one more chance.

Amanda: One more chance.

Julia: One more chance.

Amanda: One true ring.

Emma: Well no. We could do it before all of the episodes.

Amanda: That's true.

Julia: So you could have seven more chances?

Emma: I think so.

Amanda: That's true.

Emma: After... Once Game of Thrones is done I'm gonna do my Silmarillion mini series.

Julia: Hell yeah.

Amanda: Fuck yeah.

Julia: Get at us!

Amanda: I'm here for it.

Emma: So he kills his elf friend by mistake. He goes and lives with... And you know, he's already given himself another name by this point. He goes and lives with other elves and he gives hinmelf another name.

Amanda: I now get why he needs the multiple names, because of the multiple crimes.

Emma: Exactly. Yeah, he tries to put everything behind him.

Julia: He's going full catch me if you can.

Emma: Exactly.

Julia: Gotcha.

Amanda: Or like Name of the Wind, which is a series of manifold fuck ups based on ego.

Emma: Yep.

Amanda: And a guy trying to quietly outdo them.

Emma: I love that series.

Amanda: It is real entertaining.

Emma: It is very entertaining. The dragon comes to where he is. The dragon puts a spell on him.

Amanda: Whoa.

Emma: The dragon also puts a spell on his sister and his mother. His sister kinda forgets. She loses her memory.

Amanda: No!

Emma: And can't talk anymore.

Julia: That sucks.

Emma: Turin finds her not knowing who she is and teaches her how to speak again and takes her in under his wing. They fall in love, but what kind of love?

Julia: A good friendship love.

Amanda: A one sided love based on power differentials.

Emma: Well no. In theory, she loves him back, but then the dragon comes back. And Turin's like, "I gotta go fight the dragon.' And secretly she... Her name is Nienor, but he calls her Niniel. You know, close.

Amanda: Yeah, alright.

Julia: Yeah.

Amanda: I'll allow it.

Emma: She follows him and he kills the dragon, but when he kills the dragon, the dragon's blood spurts on him and kind of sends him into a swoon.

Amanda: Whoa.

Julia: I love the swoon.

Emma: Yeah. So many swoons. Turin has fallen asleep on his sword.

Amanda: Oh.

Emma: Yeah, I left that part out. But he fell asleep on top of it. Not like in him.

Amanda: Okay.

Emma: But like just on top.

Julia: We were worried.

Emma: Not yet. So then Nienor comes and the dragon is dying. His name is Glaurung. But before he dies, he wakes up and releases her from her spell and gives her back her memory.

Julia: Oh!

Amanda: Nice.

Julia: And now she feels all fucked up.

Emma: Now she knows that she married her brother and is carrying her brothers child.

Julia: See, that's a shitty last thing for that dragon to do.

Emma: Yep.

Amanda: Yikes.

Emma: Yep. The dragon's pretty evil.

Julia: Yeah, they usually are.

Emma: At least in Tolkien. Not in Song of Ice and Fire. Which I appreciate.

Julia: Yeah, in other genres we're cool, but dragons are douche bags in Tolkien.

Amanda: In Harry Potter they're just like, "I'm a toddler. Let me go."

Emma: Yeah. I think Harry Potter dragons are the best dragons.

Julia: "I have a large animal, Why are you fucking with me?"

Emma: Yeah.

Amanda: They are great.

Julia: I know.

Amanda: "Let me sleep."

Julia: "Let me sleep."

Emma: And you know, you kind of piss them off-

Julia: "Don't take my eggs."

Emma: And they spit fire on you. So she's made aware of who she is again-

Julia: She done fucked up.

Emma: So she jumps into this cavern.

Amanda: No!

Emma: Or this kind of waterfall thing.

Julia: Yeah.

Amanda: No!

Julia: It's like the Oedipus thing.

Amanda: Why did Tolkien think of all this stuff?

Emma: Oedipus is definitely-

Julia: Inspiration for this?

Emma: - Inspiration for this story.

Julia: In-ses-piration?

Emma: In-ses-piration?

Julia: Oh!

Amanda: Oh! Emma. Wow.

Emma: Well, she did it first. I just said it louder.

Julia: She just said it more distinctly than I did, which is fine. Take the credit.

Emma: And there's this guy who over hears all this, which is important because Turin wakes up. Because he didn't die, he was just in a swoon.

Julia: He was just a convenient commoner.

Emma: Yeah, exactly. And so the guy... Also, he's in love with Nienor.

Julia: It's a little late my dude.

Emma: Yeah, it's a little sad. Turin wakes up and this guy tells him and everyone what he saw.

Amanda: No!

Emma: Turin doesn't believe him and kills him.

Julia: Turin, no.

Emma: He just makes all the... Like, his hearts in the right place-

Amanda: Every choice is bad.

Emma: But he makes so many bad decisions.

Julia: Like Achilles.

Amanda: Make a choice and then do the opposite.

Emma: He's the classic tragic hero.

Amanda: Yeah.

Julia: Yeah.

Emma: And this story is the most interesting to me because it doesn't... Like, it's not crucial to the overall arc of the story. It's just this kind of fucked up story in the middle of the-

Amanda: Like human beings y'all. Am I right?

Emma: Yeah.

Julia: That cute little soap opera in the middle of all of the world building and plot related stuff.

Emma: Exatly.

Amanda: Wow.

Emma: But eventually Turin finds the guy who was with his sister when she went crazy when the spell was put on her and he's like, "Yeah. And she woke up and she couldn't remember who she was, and she ran away."

Julia: Confirmation.

Emma: And he's like, "Oh fuck, did marry my sister.

Julia: Fucked up.

Emma: And so he falls upon his sword.

Julia: Yeah.

Emma: And so his name... The only other important name that he has is Turambar. And that means, Master of Fate.

Julia: Not so much.

Amanda: Mastered by fate.

Emma: So what I love is... This is one of the few things that I learned how to say in Elvish, because I think it's... I forget who says it about him, but it's like, Turin Turambar, Auturin Ambartanin. Which means, A Master of Fate, by Fate Mastered.

Julia: Oh. I was like there's definitely a pun in there just from the way it was structured.

Amanda: Good parallel construction.

Emma: Exactly.

Amanda: Love it.

Emma: So that is the story of Turin Turambar.

Amanda: Wow.

Emma: If you don't wanna read the whole Silmarillion you can read that separately. 'Cause Christopher Tolkien, JRR Tolkien's son, released a bool called The Children of Hurin.

Julia: Cool.

Emma: Hurin's there dad. And so you can just read this story of a separate book. Also, apparently he released Beren and Luthien recently.

Julia: Cute.

Emma: I still haven't bought that yet.

Julia: Picked it up.

Emma: Haven't gotten around to it.

Amanda: That was less of a roller coaster than a like, toboggan straight to tragedy.

Emma: Yeah.

Julia: Yeah, pretty much.

Amanda: That was a Tragedy Toboggan.

Emma: It's just a tragedy toboggan. If you feel like you wanna be sad.

Julia: Read this story.

Amanda: If you feel a little bit optimistic about the world.

Emma: Exactly.

Amanda: Little bit like, newly in love. You know, like, newly just happy. Just treat yourself with one of these.

Emma: Totally. So everything that happens after that is very quick. It's important... Many other elvin kingdoms are destroyed by Morgoth. One guy, Eärendil, who's mentioned in Lord of the Rings, is able to make it to Valinor and is like, "Please, please save the world.

Julia: Do something about his ass.

Emma: And the Valar are like, "Okay, because you asked." So they basically come in and they fix everything. The one thing I wanted to mention for those of you who are Lord of the Rings fans, Eärendil is also half elf, half man, from a different lineage. And then he marries Elwing, who is the granddaughter of Beren and Luthien. They together have Elrond and Elros. You remember Elrond from Lord of the Rings.

Julia: Not L. Ron Hubbard, but Elrond.

Emma: No. Elrond. Like the council of Elrond. That super long scene in the Fellowship of the Ring.

Julia: Gotchu,

Emma: Elrond and his brother Elros are given the choice of whether they want to be elf or man. If they want to be immortal or have this weird mortal life. Elrond decides to be an elf. He has Arwen, who we see later. She's his daughter. Elros decides to be a man, but he found Numenor, which becomes this very Atlantis-esque land of men in the second age. And so there's a part in the Silmarillion at the end, after the Silmarillion, That's called Akallabêth, which is about the down fall of Numenor. But from Elros comes Aragorn.

Amanda: Hey, that's a name I know.

Emma: So technically, if you think about it-

Julia: They're kinda like second cousins or something.

Emma: They're kinda like, 50th cousins, more than that.

Julia: Like grand, grand, grand cousins or somethin'.

Emma: Yeah, THere's 500 years of men between Elros and Aragorn.

Amanda: Distant relatives.

Emma: Maybe 1000 years of men betweenthem or something like that. Where as Erwan was born like right-

Amanda: Gotcha.

Emma: So she's like, way older than him. But anyway, I think that's just kind of fun.

Amanda: It's pretty awesome.

Emma: By the end of the story Melkor is pusshed to the outer confines of the world.

Amanda: Get em outta here.

Emma: He can't come back. Get 'em out of here.

Amanda: Goodbye.

Emma: But Sauron's still around. They couldn't find him.

Julia: They didn't worry 'bout him.

Amanda: Shoulda.

Emma: He's the one who brings about the down fall of Numenor, and as we learn later, creates the Ring of Power and fucks shit up. And Froto has to come and destroy him.

Julia: Yeah! Yeah, the hobbits.

Emma: Go hobbits!

Amanda: Our small boy.

Emma: Our small little boy. The Silmarils all end up in a different place. One of them ends up in the sky, one of them ends up ii the sea and one of them ends up in the earth.

Amanda: Classic.

Emma: Galadrial is the only one of the main Noldor who came over from Valinor who survives.

Amanda: Whoa.

Julia: Interesting.

Emma: Yeah.

Amanda: Well done.

Emma: It's very interesting. So yeah, that's a not so brief, but still-

Julia: Briefer than the actual book.

Amanda: I feel like this me and Julia bribing our parent or like, badass babysitter for one more story for bedtime. And then like an hour later we're like, "What?!" Like, the best thing of all time.

Emma: You induldge me and I appreciate that.

Amanda: We loved it. We're gonna have great dreams.

Julia: Oh yeah. THey're gonna be cool and full of tree Ents.

Amanda: And like dwarf smith-ery.

Julia: Giant eagles.

Amanda: And wave riding elves.

Emma: And swan boats.

Julia: Oh those swan boats.

Emma: And don't forget thingol.

Julia: Fuckin' Thingol.

Amanda: Thingol, ugh.

Julia: Silver fox.

Amanda: Every choice is wrong.

Julia: Well all the choice is right except his name honestly.

Emma: Yeah.

Amanda: Silver fox elf.

Emma: Turin's the one who's every choice is wrong.

Amanda: Correct. I already forgotr the name.

Emma: Exactly. Imagine that times 100 and that's the Silmarillion.

Amanda: You are a scholar.

Emma: Thank you! Maybe I should go back to school for this.

Amanda: Or just publish a lot on the internet and people will start to believe you're an expert. That's my strategy.

Julia: You're a genius.

Amanda: Alright,

Julia: So Emma, is there anything you would like to plug.

Emma: Oh, I guess.

Julia: What's going on in your life.

Amanda: This will go up likely in December, January type time.

Emma: Perfect. By this point... Well 359 might be done, which is scary, but that doesn't mean you can't listen to it.

Amanda: You can listen to all of it. Binge the shit out of it.

Emma: Yeah, it's sci-fi audio drama series that takes place 7.8 light years from earth circling the red dwarf star, Wolf 359. And I play the mission commander, Renée Minkowski.

Amanda: Who I just identify with on a spiritual level. Truly.

Emma: Oh, I'm so glad.

Amanda: Where I'm just like, "If everyone listened to me there would be no problems."

Emma: Exactly. That's sort of Minkowski's plight in life is-

Amanda: I love it.

Emma: So there's that. End then by the time that this releases I should have launched my own podcast, which I believe is gonna be called Pairing.

Amanda: Use the present tense yo.

Emma: It is called Pairing and it exists.

Julia: It exists and it's wonderful.

Emma: Thank you.

Amanda: It has 100 five star reviews on iTunes.

Emma: Yes, and I'm being courted for-

Amanda: All the awards.

Emma: All the awards.

Amanda: The Podscars. The Podcast Oscars.

Julia: Why has no one made the Podcast Oscars yet Amanada?

Amanda: Because I've never accessed this part of my brain before.

Julia: There it is,

Emma: Well you know, Wolf 359, We were nominated for a Webby award. The Oscars of the Internet.

Amanda: Only ‘cause they got there first, not ‘cause they’re good.

Emma: Exactly.

Amanda: But still prestigious!

Emma: So it’s a podcast—somewhat similar concept, in which I pair wine with, like, books and movies and art and various other things.

Amanda: And if we haven’t guest starred yet, we will soon.

Emma: Absolutely! Um, yeah, thank you guys so much. It’s been a pleasure.

Amanda: Thanks for coming on!

Julia: You schooled me on so much Tolkien stuff! It was great!

Emma: Thank you for indulging me.

Julia: Thanks for being our nerd father.

Amanda: And thanks for being our nerd fairy godmother, Emma!

Emma: Thank you so much for having me.

Amanda: And remember, y’all.

Julia: Stay creepy.

Amanda: Stay cool.

[Theme music]

Amanda: Spirits was created by Amanda McLoughlin, Julia Schifini, and Eric Schneider, with music by Kevin McCloud and visual design by Allyson Wakeman.

Julia: Keep up with all things creepy and cool by following us on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook and Instagram at Spirits Podcast. We also have all our episodes, collaborations and guest appearances, plus merch on our website, spiritspodcast.com.

Amanda: Come on over to our Patreon page, patreon.com/spiritspodcast, for all kinds of behind the scenes stuff. Throw us as little as one dollar and get access to audio extras, recipe cards, directors' commentaries, and patron only live streams.

Julia: And hey, if you like the show, please share us with your friends. That is the best way to help us keep on growing.

Amanda: Thank you so much for listening. Until next time.